Nov. 30, 2011
The Hurricanes come to East Lansing ranked No. 9 in both national polls with a 5-1 record. Miami, the defending ACC Champions, has won four-straight after their only loss of the season at top-10 Tennessee. The Hurricanes return two All-Americans in their backcourt in Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams. Johnson is leading the team so far in points (18.8), rebounds (8.0), assists (6.7) and steals (5.3). Her steals rank her second in the nation, while her assists are eighth. Williams is second on the team with 16.0 points, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals. As a team, Miami is fifth in the nation in points (87.0), while ranking seventh in scoring margin (+32.8). They are extremely tough defensively, forcing 27.3 turnovers a game, ranking seventh in the country in turnover margin (+9.7) and fourth with 17.3 steals.
AGAINST THE HURRICANES
Michigan State is 2-1 all-time against Miami, but the two teams have not met since 1990. The schools first met on Dec. 30, 1984 in Miami with the Hurricanes winning 78-68. In the lone trip to East Lansing, the Spartans came out on top 63-52 on Dec. 19, 1986. In the last meeting, MSU again left with a victory, 79-73 in Miami on Dec. 30, 1990.
ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE HISTORY
The Spartans are 3-1 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. MSU topped Clemson, 68-51 in East Lansing in 2007, lost at Georgia Tech, 70-57, in 2008, knocked off No. 4 North Carolina, 72-66 in 2009, and won at No. 14 Florida State,72-64, last season. The ACC has won all four Challenges.
LAST TIME OUT (MSU 67, Oakland 42)
A strong defensive effort, especially in the second half, led MSU to a 67-42 victory over Oakland on Sunday at the Breslin Center. The Spartans began the second half on a 14-2 run over the first six and a half minutes and held the Grizzlies to 18 second half points. Suzy Merchant became the quickest head coach to 100 Spartan wins in today's game. She needed only 142 games, surpassing the previous mark by Karen Langeland and Joanne P. McCallie (155 games).
Senior Porsche Poole was the lone Spartan in double-figures, leading the way with 16 points. However, five MSU players scored at least eight points, as seniors Taylor Alton and Lykendra Johnson had nine, and junior Courtney Schiffauer and freshman Becca Mills scored eight apiece. Alton led the Spartans with a career high seven rebounds. Freshman Kiana Johnson tied her season highs with five assists and three steals.
Oakland would cut the game to one point (25-24) with 1:32 to go in the first half, but an Alton 3-pointer and a K. Johnson layup in the final 26 seconds gave the Spartans a 30-24 halftime lead. The Grizzlies scored on their first possession of the second half, but Michigan State ran off the next 14 points over the next six minutes to pretty much put the game away at 44-28.The Spartans would put together another long run, this time a 15-2 spurt covering eight minutes to open their largest lead of the game at 61-34 with just over four minutes left.
The Spartans held Oakland to 31.7% shooting for the game, including 19.0% (4-of-21) from behind the arc. MSU controlled the boards, outrebounding the Grizzlies, 47-30, leading to 20 second chance points. Michigan State tied a program low mark, committing only five fouls in the game, and keeping the Grizzlies off the foul line. A defensive effort, held Oakland's leading scorer Bethany Watterworth, who entered the game averaging 22.5 points, to a season-low 12 points.
300 AND 10
With the win over Oakland on Sunday, head coach Suzy Merchant became the fastest head coach to 100 wins as a Spartan. In her five seasons, she has posted a 100-42 (.704) record since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. Both Karen Langeland and Joanne P. McCallie needed 155 games to win 100.
Coach Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Tuesday at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 301-162 (.650) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
Michigan State has done a great job of bouncing back after a loss over the last couple seasons, winning its last 11 games after a defeat. With their win at Milwaukee, the Spartans have not lost back-to-back games in a season since Jan. 2010. In Coach Merchant's four seasons, the Spartans are 33-9 (78.6%) following a loss.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Senior Lykendra Johnson entered the season with the reputation as one of the best rebounders in the nation, and she has lived up to that billing early in the 2011-12 campaign. She currently leads the Big Ten with 9.9 rebounds a game. Earlier this season she set a career-high with 20 on Nov. 15 vs. IPFW. Those 20 rebounds were the seventh most ever by a Spartan and the most since Kristen Rasmussen grabbed 20 on Dec. 30, 1997. They are also the most in the Big Ten since Penn State's Nikki Greene had 20 on Jan. 23, 2011.
Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last season and is currently eighth with 813 rebounds. In terms of offensive rebounds, she is at an even quicker pace up the Spartan all-time charts. Since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87, Johnson has the second-most offensive rebounds all-time (327) and her 3.1 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).
STREAKING FROM THE LINE
Senior Porsche Poole has made 37 of her last 38 (97.4%) free throw attempts, dating back to last season. She has currently made 16 in a row, after having a streak of 21-straight snapped earlier this season. The stretch was tied for the ninth longest in MSU history. Currently, Poole leads the Big Ten and is seventh in the nation in free throw percentage (95.8%).
CRASHING THE BOARDS
The Spartans are off to a positive start on the boards early in the 2011-12 season. Through the first seven games, MSU leads the Big Ten and is sixth in the country in rebound margin (+15.0), including a +103 margin (+17.2 a game) combined in its last six contests. Two Spartans rank among the top-10 in the conference individually with senior Lykendra Johnson leading the Big Ten with 9.9 a game and freshman Becca Mills is eighth with 7.4. Mills (3.4) and Johnson (3.3) are among the top-10 in the conference in offensive rebounds.
Last season, Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebound margin, offensive rebounds and both rebound percentage categories. MSU was +8-4 in rebound margin, which was also ninth in the nation and broke the school's single-season record. The Spartans also topped the league with 15.5 offensive rebounds a game, which tied the previous single-season record (2005-06).
MSU has out-rebounded 30 of its last 33 opponents dating back to last season, including all seven teams this season.
SPLASH IN THE POOLE
Senior Porsche Poole has increased her scoring average in each of her seasons at MSU, averaging 3.8 as a freshman, 4.6 as a sophomore and 6.1 last season. Through seven games this season, she leads the team with 14.0 points per game, which is 11th-best in the Big Ten. Poole has scored in double-figures in five games, including the last four, the longest stretch of her career. She also ranks among the top-5 in the Big Ten in all three shooting percentages (first in free throw, fourth in 3-point field goal and fifth in field goal).
In her career, Poole's offensive success has been a great indicator for a Spartan win. When she has led the team in scoring, MSU is 10-0, while the Spartans are 19-3 when she scores in double-figures.
Poole has also done a great job distributing the ball, leading the team and ranking seventh in the Big Ten with 4.3 assists per game. She already has 30 assists this season, three-quarters of the way to her career high of 40 set as a sophomore.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. When the Spartans have scored at least 70 points, their record is 44-4 (91.7%), including winning their last 27 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 77-8 (90.6%).
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Lykendra Johnson enters her senior season among the program's leaders in many statistical categories, and has a chance to finish among the elite players in MSU history. Currently she is second all-time at MSU in offensive rebounds (327), fourth in blocks (111), eighth in rebounds (813), 14th in free throws made (242), 14th with 179 steals and 16th with 49 3-point field goals. Johnson needs only 35 points to become the 22nd 1,000-point scorer in MSU history.
Last season, the Spartans set a new single-season record by making 221 3-point field goals, shattering the previous record of 176 (2004-05). Twelve different MSU players made a 3-pointer in 2010-11. However, this offseason the NCAA moved the women's 3-point line back to the men's line of 20-feet, 9-inches. It hasn't effected the Spartans to this point, as MSU has made 48 3-pointers (6.9 a game) in the first seven games, ranking second in the Big Ten.
Taylor Alton is the top long-distance threat returning in 2011-12. She led the team and was eighth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.9%). After joining the starting lineup for the final 15 games, Alton made 1.9 3-pointers a game, including seven in the two combined NCAA Tournament games. So far this season, Alton has made 18 3-pointers (2.6 a game), leading the Big Ten, and is 13th in the conference with a 35.3% mark from behind the arc.
The 2011-12 basketball season will be the Spartans' 23rd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 230-79 (.744) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 96-17 (.850) since 2003.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
For the past seven-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the seventh straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,388 fans per game, which ranked ninth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It set a new single-season attendance record, previously 6,787 in 2005-06, and tied for the highest nationally ranking (2006-07).
Michigan State had its first official sellout in program history vs. Michigan (Feb. 13) with a crowd of 14,797. It was the first sellout by a Big Ten school since Feb. 29, 2004 (Penn State), and just the ninth by a Big Ten school in their current home venue. With the sellout, the Spartans were the Big Ten Conference winner of the NCAA's Pack the House initiative.
In the 23-year history at Breslin, 1,196,379 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under head coach Suzy Merchant, MSU is 11-11 against ranked teams, including a 4-4 mark last season. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Spartans have 32 wins over nationally-ranked opponents, including 12 over top-10 teams and 16 on either the road or neutral floor.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-0 all-time on December 1, including last season's Big Ten/ACC Challenge victory at Florida State.